eCommerce Photography in 5 Simple Steps

February 28, 2020 0 By Peter Engel

Now today I want to talk to you about
eCommerce photography now eCommerce is a booming industry and with it so is
eCommerce photography now we’ve got this amazing blog post covering all aspects
to do with eCommerce photography and I know that a lot of you don’t like long
reads so I’m going to talk to you about everything in that blog post here today
in this video. Now as well as this particular video within the blog post
which can be found at navigate to our blog and
you’ll find your way to this eCommerce blog post within this blog post we have
two more videos. One of them is an eCommerce fashion video that shows you
how to do eCommerce catalog fashion shots with just a three light setup and
the other one is an eCommerce product video a sort of cosmetic style shop
white-on-white and that’s done with continuous LED
lighting so you’ll find those videos very very useful if you have an interest
in eCommerce photography. Now, where was I? So eCommerce photography, if it’s done
correctly it can be quick and it can be an easy way to make money but there are
a few tricks to getting it right now in the recent how-to video that I did with
broncolor’s Urs Recher, we showed you an effective lighting setup for shooting
eCommerce fashion but there’s much more to online sales than just fashion shots
so whether you’re shooting fashion or products I’ve outlined a few important
guidelines for you that will help produce the best possible results simply
and easily. So how to shoot eCommerce photography, there’s no denying that
strong photography will help sell images (will not sell images) that sell products,
and that’s why product photographers are some of the highest-earning
photographers in the industry. Now eCommerce, although it’s a much simpler
form of advertising photography it’s still equally powerful in persuading
consumers to buy but there are a few key details that we need to keep in mind
when shooting. Number one, as always is preparation. Now whether it be ironing
clothes, cleaning and dusting a bottle of shampoo, or thinking about the shots that
you need or testing your lighting beforehand. Preparation is key to any
successful shoot now you can never be too prepared when it comes to
photography so take your time with this part of the shoot some of the key things
to do before the shoot include preparing your items creating a shot list of your
items and thinking about preparing your lighting now preparing your items could
include a variety of things it largely depends on the items that you’re going
to be shooting for example if you’re shooting clothes make sure the items are
clean and ironed pay attention to details like loose threads or missing
buttons these may seem like minor things but correcting them before shooting will
save you a lot of hassle further down the line and a lot of post-production
work further down the line now if you’re shooting packshot products for example
it might be a box of tea or it might be various different products make sure
that the products sit well and that there’s no open edges on the shape of
the boxes remember that many pack shots involve shooting boxes or cartons or
items that are packaged and how that packaging sits is very important
sometimes you actually need to take the cartons apart reglue them or blu-tack
them in place or use double-sided tape so that they sit properly now one other
thing that is really important with product shots for e-commerce is to
organize all of your products into different size groupings of similar
items and this is really imperative because if you’re going to do a batch of
e-commerce shots in one day you want to maximize how many products you can get
through with the same lighting setup so if you start off with a
all cosmetic product and then you go to a giant toy for example you’re gonna
have to move the camera change lens and potentially even change your lighting so
group items together based on size and similarity as well now before you start
shooting make sure you have that comprehensive shot list based on size of
items etc and include details such as which items need to be photographed how
many different angles are required for each product and what if any props might
be required to go along with the product for each image now once you have an idea
of the shots that you need you can start thinking about your lighting what are
the products you’re shooting what are they what surfaces do they have what
color are they do they need soft light do they need a slightly harder more
sparkly light and the key thing is to bring out the best of your product you
have to represent it in its best way to help sell it now ideally though you’ll
still want a versatile repeatable lighting setup that will allow you to
shoot a multitude of objects or products without having to adjust your lighting
for each shot because what we’re talking here is is ecommerce isn’t you know very
similar what we used to call it was pack shop photography and the way to make
money with pack shot photography was consistency it was the ability to have a
lighting setup that you could put an object down press the shutter button
then put the next object in and press the shutter button and so on and so on
and you want that repeatability but you want it with clean pure white so that
you don’t have to do any cutout work so your lighting has to be absolutely
perfect and in one of those videos that I mentioned earlier I demonstrate
exactly how you can achieve that pure white look without the needs for cutouts
and this is again why the preparation part is so important you’re basically
trying to create a production line of photography of images of objects so
having those objects well prepared the cartons the boxes reflective items size
of items and organizing yourself really well first
will help you rapidly shoot through those objects in a day and get more
shots done be more productive and therefore basically make more money from
the shoot okay the next thing we’re going to look at is equipment now really
ecommerce requires very little in terms of equipment you can get away with
little more than two or three lights and reflectors for your lighting and any
half-decent DSLR or mirrorless camera will be good for the job but you will
need a good tripod I recommend a good solid based tripod because you want that
consistency you don’t want to accidentally tap your tripod on the
whole tripod move so get yourself a really good decent weighted tripod now
other useful accessories for e-commerce photography which you’ll see oars and I
use in the videos that I mentioned that are in our blog post on Carl Taylor
education these include the base that you’re going to use for your product to
sit on or your model to stand on now in these videos we used a white acrylic
sheet for the base surface because that white acrylic sheet is highly reflective
and it reflects the back wall or the back white lighting and it reflects it
really cleanly onto the base as well so you end up with a background and the
base surface that are pure white and therefore you don’t need to do any
cutout work now the white acrylic sheet for the base surface is what’s commonly
used but you may use white foam board you may decide that you need your
products on a black material it depends obviously on the type of e-commerce
photography that you’re doing but most cases you’re going to be looking at
doing e-commerce type shots on pure white a computer laptop tethered
shooting is another good thing to consider to tethering cable a large
silver reflector can be a useful accessory as can just be large sheets of
white foam board to use as reflectors as well now those are just some of the
basics that you’ll need for any e-commerce product shot which you’ll
find will come in hand for many different situations now you
can learn more about my top 10 accessories for studio photography in
another blog post that we have on Carl Taylor education and it’s also another
video on our YouTube channel okay let’s talk about lighting now while there are
many blog posts out there that advocate for natural light there is no doubt that
studio lights will allow for far greater control and allow you to shoot at any
time of day so ecommerce photography typically
features those clean white backgrounds with bright well lit products and it’s
easier to accomplish this with studio lighting than it is with natural light
now as I mentioned in the video we’ve got one video here where we demonstrate
with three studio lights that are flash studio lights and then we demonstrate
another e-commerce shot which is three lights that are continuous LED lighting
so your options are there and are available for you to consider which type
of lighting will work best for you now my top three tips for creating white
backgrounds are consider the position of your light the height the angle and the
distance from the background will all have an impact on the result remember
you can measure your RGB values in your tethered software now I usually do this
in my focus software you can do this in capture one and you can measure the
values in Lightroom as well if you’re using Lightroom tethered now you
generally want to get your white values very close to two five five in the red
channel the green channel and the blue channel 255 indicates that you’ve
achieved pure white but you don’t want to go beyond it so it’s best to start
actually below 255 and acknowledge and see that you have achieved say to 5-0
and then you know you’re not over exposing the background and gone beyond
255 because the software won’t register anything over to
by five so start slightly below it and then increase the lighting gradually
till you hit it and then you’ve just peaked out a pure white rather than over
exposing the background and potentially damaging bleaching and causing flare
onto your products by being dramatically overexposed on the background now that
is a really key tip with for product photography because one of the dangers
is flare flare can make your subject appear flat and washed out and you
definitely want to avoid that so be very very careful with those measuring those
values from your light coming from the background or the light on your pure
white background now the setup shown in the videos that I’ve mentioned that are
on the blog post on Carl Taylor education comm are particularly good if
you’re shooting fashion for one of the videos but if you don’t have three
lights you can also achieve some great results using just one light and a large
octa box from an overhead position and you can see that in this particular
portrait photography class on our website where I get great results just
with one light setups as well two light setups allow you more versatility and
you can do this with affordable modifiers and you can see a great
tutorial that we’ve got on Cal Poly education here as well now all of these
lighting setups are ideal for shooting with a model because they’re versatile
in nature of the lighting which allows for a very fluid shooting process which
is what you want with e-commerce fashion photography especially you want to be
able to shoot many pictures and many different poses many angles and you want
the model to have the freedom for example if we look at some of my
commercial work you’ll see that the fashion images are very much more locked
down and rigid because the lighting is very much more specific to a specific
place or point that type of lighting isn’t suitable at all for e-commerce
photography because it’s not versatile because as soon as the model moves ahead
body angle or position then the certain area or feature of the light changes and
then the the subject material changes what you need for e-commerce photography
is a lighting style where the model has complete flexibility and versatility to
move around in any position and yet the shop will work from any angle so it’s a
different type of lighting compared to some of my usual fashion work that you
can see here now when it comes to lighting and shooting products for
e-commerce you can easily get away with a two light setup using just a reflector
and a large softbox or a medium-sized softbox you can see that in some of our
previous live shows now other accessories that you might find useful
include diffusion material mirrors the white and black foam board that we
mentioned and depending on your subject you may want to either maximise texture
or reduce unwanted reflections so you have to think carefully about the
position and the distance of your light in relation to the product and again
keep in mind the fact that you need a versatile setup that will allow you to
work quickly and efficiently with your shot list and that production line
you’ve got of all the products lined up ready to shoot now the next thing to
consider is the shooting process once you’ve got your lighting set up for
e-commerce photography make sure your tripod is firmly in position and that
your product and subject looks as good as it possibly can and that you’re ready
to start shooting now in theory this is where all your planning will come
together the better that you’ve planned the smoother your shooting will go now
although you’ll want to work quickly don’t forget to pay attention to the
details and this is why tethered shooting can be particularly helpful
because you can see those details much more clearly than you can if you’re just
trying to look at the image on the back of the camera now remember to refer to
your shot list throughout the shoot and double-check it
the end so that you haven’t missed anything out and that your client is
going to come back to you and say oh you’ve missed one or two shots and then
you’ve got the problem of setting up the whole ecommerce packshot thing again but
you don’t want to do so really be thorough with your checklist and your
shoot list now finally we need to consider post-production now while I
strongly encourage you to get as much right in camera as possible don’t
neglect the finishing touches in the post-production stage now in the videos
on the blog post here you’ll see that we actually produce really high quality
e-commerce images without any post-production and that’s what you need
to be aiming for but you may well still need to fix the odd blemish and flaw in
the product or fashion shot typically this could include applying simple crops
to your image increasing the exposure slightly or liquefying rough edges or
doing just removing blemishes or fixing stray hairs those sort of things now
while you don’t want to spend hours on each shot correcting these little
details will make a big difference for your client and the likelihood of you
getting rebooked again for packshot and e-commerce photography now if you’re
looking to share these images to social media or upload them to an online store
or an online website there are a few things you will have to do before
putting the images out there now some of the common adjustments that you may need
to include are resizing your images to the correct dimensions and we’ve got a
great class on resizing the images and the other thing to consider is applying
slight sharpening to the images and the final crop as well and the amount of
sharpening that we apply for images for the web we cover in depth on one of our
micro Photoshop tutorial classes here on Carl Taylor education comm now one other
important thing that can really help improve your workflow in the
post-production is that you’ll find when you’re doing Photoshop retouching on
ecommerce images you’ll find that you’re really
usually doing the same sort of commands either lightening the exposure a little
bit pulling up the highlights a bit adding a little bit of contrast applying
a certain crop and quite often they’ll be exactly the same command over and
over again so think about creating your own actions that you record and then you
save that action and then you can just simply play that action again when
you’ve got another batch of images and when you play that action it will run
through all of those folder of images automating those Photoshop commands so
that you don’t have to do them manually and that can be a huge speed up to your
workflow if you’re not familiar with how to create actions in Photoshop again
we’ve got a wonderful class on Carl Taylor education that teaches you
exactly how to do it if you enjoyed this video please click the like button and
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